116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A business traveler who just spent a day in meetings soon will be able to enjoy a beer on an outdoor patio at The Eastern Iowa Airport before flying home.
The patio is among amenities to be added in a proposed $65 million Phase 4 of a terminal modernization project that started in 2012. The Cedar Rapids Airport Commission will vote Monday on the plan and specifications for the project, expected to be completed by 2025.
“The new addition and expanded seating really improves the guest experience,” Airport Executive Director Marty Lenss said Friday. “We’ll have a large outdoor patio on the end so guests can take in the nice Iowa days.”
The project involves remodeling the terminal from Gate 4 to Gate 9 and extending the concourse. There also will be more room between the jet ways. These changes have been pushed, in part, by airlines flying fewer, but larger planes due to a pilot shortage, he said.
“We’re seeing more 737 aircraft from all our major carriers,” Lenss said. “Rather than 76-seat aircraft, we’re seeing 150- and 160-seat aircraft. It’s put more pressure on gate seating and elbow room between jet ways.”
The terminal modernization will include more amenities, including a sensory room for people overstimulated by travel and the airport, more space for mothers and babies and an indoor area where service animals and traveling pets can go to the bathroom, Lenss said.
The airport already has one small outdoor seating area by Gate 1, but the new patio will be larger and will have a license to serve alcohol.
Outdoor seating has become a new trend at airports, with Denver International Airport adding one in 2020 and the Monterey Regional Airport, in California, putting in an outdoor courtyard earlier this year.
These patios allow visitors who have already passed through security to sit outside to view planes coming and going or just get some fresh air and sunshine.
“This will be very prominent and out at the end of the building,” Lenss said. “People absolutely love it.”
Phase 3 of the project included updates to Gates 1, 2 and 3, new security, the High Porch restaurant and the Java House. Geothermal heating and cooling was added to those areas and will be included in Phase 4.
This last phase will double the number of solar panels, meaning about 20 percent to 25 percent of the airport’s energy will come from the sun, Lenss said.
Phase 4 originally was estimated at $50 million, but costs rose to $65 million. The U.S. Department of Transportation announced in July another $20 million for the project, which also has state funding.
If the commission adopts the plans and specifications Monday, airport staff will move forward with getting bids. Staff will report bids at the group’s Dec. 19 meeting and, hopefully, award the contract, Lenss said.
Construction would start in the spring.
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